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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nancy Palm, December 16, 1974. Interview A-0194. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Need for effective organization within the Republican Party

Palm emphasizes the importance of both local and statewide organization for the establishment of a strong Republican Party in Texas. According to Palm, one reason the Republican Party had failed to truly coalesce in Texas by the mid-1970s was the failure of the Republicans to garner a top level, statewide office. Although John Tower was the first Republican senator since Reconstruction in Texas by that time, Palm argues that the failure of top Republicans like Tower and President Richard Nixon to throw their support behind state-level Republicans within Texas had kept the Republican Party from fully taking off.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nancy Palm, December 16, 1974. Interview A-0194. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

And if the Republican party were well organized, they could easily take over the state. But the Republican party state-wide is not.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Is it a country club party?
NANCY PALM:
It is to me. It always has been. That's the reason I would say - other than the fact that there is a total difference in the approach. Meaning that I think you start at the bottom and work up. But I also think that you go to the people who have the votes and not to the so-called country club set. Which the state party has courted.
WALTER DE VRIES:
If you were the state chairman, what would you do differently?
NANCY PALM:
That would be a book unto itself.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Would you emphasize organization?
NANCY PALM:
I would emphasize organization. I would also emphasize the small donor and I would also emphasize a total openness for the party, for financial records. We prepare a budget, present our audit, both to the press and the public. I would help people to understand what they are getting for their money and I would develop the issues on a liberal-conservative basis. Because Texas, even with the tremendous influx of population, is basically a conservative state.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Some of the people that we've talked to assert the same thing, that the party is run here for Senator Tower. And that the net result of that is that he doesn't really encourage other candidates to run state-wide or in local races because it may draw finances or effort away from his campaign. What do you think of that assertion?
NANCY PALM:
I've been very open in saying that the Republican party was run by, for and for the benefit of Senator Tower. It has really been one of the things that, to me, has defeated the building of a two party system.
WALTER DE VRIES:
But don't they argue that you really need a state-wide office at the top first before you can build a state-wide party.
NANCY PALM:
Well, if the state-wide office is a federal office, it's not going to do you much good. Particularly if the state-wide federal officeholder wants the party in his vest pocket. You will see this again, I'm afraid, through '76. I think you will see Tower carrying the Texas delegation. John Tower simply has not built the state party. I mean this is very obvious. The fact that we've elected no state-wide office on a state level.
JACK BASS:
Does Tower actively discourage state-wide candidates in '72?
NANCY PALM:
It would have to depend on what you mean by discouraging them. He certainly gave them no support whatsoever. Remember, we only had five. We didn't even have a full ticket.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Let me put it another way. Did he actively go out to find candidates?
NANCY PALM:
No, he did not. No, he definitely did not.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Has he done any of that sort of activity?
NANCY PALM:
Oh, in '74 his executive director in Austin did recruit certainly relatively unknown, untried candidates that had no base, organizational or financial influence. And that's shown by the fact that our gubernatorial candidate got the smallest percentage of votes since I believe 1962. And he was Tower's handpicked candidate.
JACK BASS:
What's your reaction to the assertion that the Republicans could have won the 1972 governor's race if there had been support from both Nixon and Tower?
NANCY PALM:
There's absolutely no question about it whatsoever. The Republicans would now have the gubernatorial chair and with, in '74, going into four year terms, we would have held it for eight years. Another $100,000 would have elected a Republican governor in 1972. Or even that, had it not been for the animosity of the Committee to Reelect and Senator John Tower.
JACK BASS:
How was this animosity demonstrated?
NANCY PALM:
With cutting off funds where they could, and in running a separate campaign.
JACK BASS:
Tower-Nixon more or less ran together but did not include the candidate for governor.
NANCY PALM:
The Tower-Nixon people ran totally as a ticket. The Committee to Re-elect helped finance John Tower's campaign in the state of Texas through the extensive boiler rooms that they had. They called out the vote for the Tower-Nixon ticket.